Alumni - PhDs/PostDocs

Hella Schwanke, PhD student Brinkmann lab

Technische Universität Braunschweig (P01)

I am a molecular biologist, interested in the interplay between viruses and the cell-intrinsic innate immune defence. During my studies in molecular life sciences at the University of Lübeck, the virology lectures fostered my curiosity for the mechanisms deployed by viruses to remodel the host cell according to their needs. I think it is striking that many cellular processes were first discovered because a viral protein interfered with them, and there is still a lot we can learn about both the viruses and our own cells.
For our research at the TU Braunschweig, I want to find out how a single viral protein enables a herpes virus to modulate the complex pathways of the innate immune response. To do this, I am investigating the structure and interactions of this protein with other molecules, and based on this, its influence on the processes in the host cell.
In my spare time, I like to garden on the balcony and to explore the nearby Harz mountains.

Dr. rer. nat. Denise Ohnezeit, PostDoc Fischer lab

University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, UKE (P04)

Infectious diseases and the interplay of pathogens with the immune system have fascinated me since I started studying Biology in Hamburg and shortly in Montpellier. Therefore, I moved to Lübeck to study Infection Biology and gained a deeper insight into all kinds of infections and host-pathogen interactions. I appreciated the internationality of the program and was reinforced to invest more time in research, so I became a PhD student in the lab of Nicole Fischer, working with a very fascinating albeit elusive virus – the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Most of us are infected with MCPyV without developing any symptoms, but in rare cases the virus can induce the formation of a very aggressive skin tumor. I am particularly interested in the question how MCPyV exploits cellular molecular processes to establish persistent infection or induce tumorigenesis. These include for example the innate immune response or transcriptional regulatory processes that might be targeted by MCPyV during its life cycle. I am sure that there is still a lot to discover when it comes to host-pathogen interactions on the molecular level.
In my free time I enjoy cooking with friends, reading a good book and playing the piano or the guitar. Most refreshing for me is being by the sea and a perfect vacation should always include some surfing sessions.

Dr. rer. nat. Alessandro Grodziecki, PostDoc Schreiner lab

Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (P08)

Organoids are three-dimensional clusters of stem cells and differentiated epithelial cells that can be cultivated in vitro from many organs, like the intestine, liver, and lung. During my PhD I generated mutants of intestinal organoids using CRISPR/Cas9 multiplexing to investigate cancer progression in a porcine model of colorectal adenocarcinoma. As a Postdoc in the Schreiner lab at the Hannover Medical School I use human organoids to study adenovirus infection and immune responses in this advanced cell culture system.
My first goal is to identify cell types that allow adenovirus replication or serve as viral reservoir in latency as proposed for adenovirus reactivation after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Next, the influence of cytokines on virus replication and the viral spread over between epithelial and immune cells will be investigated. The aim of my work is to reduce the risk for lethal virus reactivation in HSCT patients by proposing new treatment options for immune suppression.
The best way to relax for me is dancing.